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June 14, 2010, 10:22 PM CT

link between IVF treatments and autism?

link between IVF treatments and autism?
The first "test tube baby" was born in 1978. With advances in reproductive science, an estimated one percent of all American babies are now born each year through in vitro fertilization (IVF). But IVF and other assisted fertility therapys appears to be solving one problem by creating another, suggests new evidence from Tel Aviv University.

In a recent study, Dr. Ditza Zachor of Tel Aviv University's Sackler School of Medicine reported a strong link between IVF and mild to moderate cases of autism. Her findings were presented last month at the International Meeting for Autism Research in Philadelphia.

As per her research at the Autism Center at the Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in Israel, which Dr. Zachor directs, 10.5% of 461 children diagnosed with a disorder on the autism spectrum were conceived using IVF, a significantly higher number than the 3.5% autism rate in the general Israeli population.

Other factors in play

While the study doesn't draw any definitive conclusions, it presents some urgent questions, says Dr. Zachor. "It's too early to make a serious deduction based on that evidence alone," she says, citing other birth-related factors in her study, such as low birth rate and prematurity. Dr. Zachor's ongoing research will attempt to separate out these risk factors to come up with more precise numbers for autism and other prenatal conditions in IVF.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


June 7, 2010, 6:41 AM CT

Regular bedtimes for children

Regular bedtimes for children
Children in households with bedtime rules and children who get adequate sleep score higher on a range of developmental evaluations, as per a research abstract that will be presented Monday, June 7, 2010, in San Antonio, Texas, at SLEEP 2010, the 24th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC.

Results indicate that among sleep habits, having a regular bedtime was the most consistent predictor of positive developmental outcomes at 4 years of age. Scores for receptive and expressive language, phonological awareness, literacy and early math abilities were higher in children whose parents reported having rules about what time their child goes to bed. Having an earlier bedtime also was predictive of higher scores for most developmental measures.

The study also provides a wealth of information about typical sleep patterns in 4-year-old children. As per the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, preschool children should get a minimum of 11 hours of sleep each night. Getting less than this recommended amount of sleep, the study's authors found, was linked to lower scores on phonological awareness, literacy and early math skills. The data show that a number of children are not getting the recommended amount of sleep, which may have negative consequences for their development and school achievement.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


May 21, 2010, 7:27 AM CT

First drug to demonstrate therapeutic effect in a type of autism

First drug to demonstrate therapeutic effect in a type of autism
Scientists from Mount Sinai School of Medicine have identified a drug that improves communication between nerve cells in a mouse model of Phelan-McDermid Syndrome (PMS). Behavioral symptoms of PMS fall under the autism spectrum disorder category. The research will be presented Friday at the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR) in Philadelphia.

Prior research has shown that a gene mutation in the brain called SHANK3 can cause absent or severely delayed language abilities, intellectual disability, and autism. Mount Sinai scientists developed mice with a mutant SHANK3 gene and observed a lapse in communication between nerve cells in the brain, which can lead to learning problems. This communication breakdown indicated that the nerve cells were not maturing properly.

The scientists then injected the mice with a derivative of a compound called insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF1), which is FDA-approved to treat growth failure in children. After two weeks of therapy, nerve cell communication was normal and adaptation of nerve cells to stimulation, a key part of learning and memory, was restored.

"The result of IGF1 therapy of these mice is an exciting development on the road to ultimate therapies for individuals with PMS," said Joseph Buxbaum, PhD, Director of the Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. "If these data are further verified in additional preclinical studies, individuals with a SHANK3 mutation appears to benefit from therapys with compounds like this one".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


May 21, 2010, 6:43 AM CT

Books in home as important as parents' education

Books in home as important as parents' education
Whether rich or poor, residents of the United States or China, illiterate or college graduates, parents who have books in the home increase the level of education their children will attain, as per a 20-year study led by Mariah Evans, University of Nevada, Reno associate professor of sociology and resource economics.

For years, educators have thought the strongest predictor of attaining high levels of education was having parents who were highly educated. But, strikingly, this massive study showed that the difference between being raised in a bookless home in comparison to being raised in a home with a 500-book library has as great an effect on the level of education a child will attain as having parents who are barely literate (3 years of education) in comparison to having parents who have a university education (15 or 16 years of education). Both factors, having a 500-book library or having university-educated parents, propel a child 3.2 years further in education, on average.

Being a sociologist, Evans was especially interested to find that children of lesser-educated parents benefit the most from having books in the home. She has been looking for ways to help Nevada's rural communities, in terms of economic development and education.

"What kinds of investments should we be making to help these kids get ahead?" she asked. "The results of this study indicate that getting some books into their homes is an inexpensive way that we can help these children succeed." .........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


May 12, 2010, 10:13 AM CT

Efficacy and Safety of Available Rotavirus Vaccines

Efficacy and Safety of Available Rotavirus Vaccines
Acute diarrhea has been a major cause of death in young children worldwide until recently, and still true in many developing countries. The infectious agent for most of these diarrheas in young children is Rotavirus which was discovered in 1973 by Ruth Bisop. (Ref1). Rotavirus is shown to cause 40-50% of severe acute diarrhea in young children worldwide in both developing and developed countries. More than 600, 000 young children die every year from rotavirus disease, predominantly in South-East Asia and sub-Sahara. (Ref1).

Rotavirus is a double strand RNA virus belonging to the family of Reovirus. It is the most most common cause of diarrhea in infants and young children. Almost all kids have had a rotavirus infection by the time they're 5 years (Ref 2).

Wyeth introduced a Rotavirus vaccine (RotaShield) in1998. Clinical trials in US and many countries showed this to be highly effective vaccine. This vaccine was subsequently licensed for use in the United States. Wyeth, however, withdrew it from the market in 1999, after it was found that the vaccine may have contributed to an increased risk of bowel obstruction (Ref 4).

Subsequently two other vaccines (Rotarix by GlaxoSmithKline and RotaTeq by Merck) were introduced against Rotavirus. These were shown to be safe (Ref 5). ........

Written by: Kottapurath Kujumoideen MD      Read more         Source


May 4, 2010, 7:04 AM CT

Exposure to prenatal smoking

Exposure to prenatal smoking
It is well-known that maternal smoking during pregnancy can have long-term effects on the physical health of the child, including increased risk for respiratory disease, ear infections and asthma. New research shows that prenatal smoking also can lead to psychiatric problems and increase the need for psychotropic medications in childhood and young adulthood.

Finnish scientists observed that adolescents who had been exposed to prenatal smoking were at increased risk for use of all psychiatric drugs particularly those uses to treat depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and addiction in comparison to non-exposed youths. The study will be presented Tuesday, May 4 at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

"Recent studies show that maternal smoking during pregnancy may interfere with brain development of the growing fetus," said Mikael Ekblad, main author of the study and a pediatric researcher at Turku University Hospital in Finland. "By avoiding smoking during pregnancy, all the later psychiatric problems caused by smoking exposure could be prevented".

Ekblad and colleagues collected information from the Finnish Medical Birth Register on maternal smoking, gestational age, birthweight and 5-minute Apgar scores for all children born in Finland from 1987 through 1989. They also analyzed records on mothers' psychiatric inpatient care from 1969-1989 and children's use of psychiatric drugs.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 19, 2010, 7:01 AM CT

When 'sick' children are unnecessarily sent home

When 'sick' children are unnecessarily sent home
In a newly released study, scientists at the Medical College of Wisconsin and Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, working with Community Coordinated Child Care (4C's), have observed that a number of metropolitan Milwaukee child care directors would unnecessarily send children with mild illnesses home.

Andrew N. Hashikawa, M.D., and his colleagues surveyed 305 child care centers in metropolitan Milwaukee to see how closely directors followed national guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Public Health Association (APHA) and to identify characteristics linked to unnecessary exclusion decisions. Their findings "Unnecessary Child Care Exclusions in a State That Endorses National Exclusion Guidelines," would be reported in the recent issue of Pediatrics (published online April 19).

Dr. Hashikawa is an instructor in pediatrics and a third year fellow in pediatric emergency medicine at the Medical College and practices at Children's Hospital.

In 2005, more than two-thirds of children in the United States who were under five mandatory nonparental child care, a vast majority of whom received care in a child care setting. "Children who are excluded from child care place a significant economic burden on parents, businesses, and health care resources." Dr. Hashikawa points out.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 2, 2010, 6:55 AM CT

Imaging life as it happens

Imaging life as it happens
Kirill Larin, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at UH, works in his lab documenting the formation of the mammalian heart through a high-resolution, noninvasive imaging device, providing perhaps the best live imagery taken of the vital organ.

Credit: Mark Lacy

Imagine being able to image life as it happens by capturing video of the embryonic heart before it begins beating. A professor at the University of Houston, in collaboration with researchers at Baylor College of Medicine, is doing just that.

Kirill Larin, assistant professor of biomedical engineering in the Cullen College of Engineering at UH, and colleagues in the Texas Medical Center are documenting the formation of the mammalian heart through a high-resolution, non-invasive imaging device, providing perhaps the best live imagery taken of the vital organ.

"Everything we know about early development of the heart and formation of the vasculature system comes from in vitro studies of fixed tissue samples or studies of amphibian and fish embryos," Larin said. "With this technology, we are able to image life as it happens, see the heart beat in a mammal for the very first time." .

Using optical-coherence tomography (OCT), a technique that relies on a depth-resolved analysis created by the reflection of an infrared laser beam off an object, Larin and colleagues at Baylor College of Medicine's Dickinson Lab are using the technique to study what leads to cardiovascular abnormalities. Whereas ultrasound uses sound waves to create viewable, yet grainy, video images, OCT uses optical contrast and infrared broadband laser sources to help generate a real-time, high-resolution output.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 1, 2010, 6:39 AM CT

Small soda taxes may not curb consumption among children

Small soda taxes may not curb consumption among children
Small sales taxes on soft drinks in the range currently in force in some states are insufficient to reduce consumption of soda or curb obesity among children, as per a new RAND Corporation study.

Such small taxes may reduce consumption in some subgroups such as children at greater risk for obesity, but reducing consumption for all children would require larger taxes, as per the study published by the journal Health Affairs

"If the goal is to noticeably reduce soda consumption among children, then it would have to be a very substantial tax" said Roland Sturm, the study's main author and a senior economist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "A small sales tax on soda does not appear to lead to a noticeable drop in consumption, led alone reduction in obesity".

Taxes on soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages have been proposed as part of a number of anti-obesity efforts, with the goal being to discourage consumption of the high-calorie drinks in order to curb excess weight gain.

Scientists estimated the potential effect of soft drink taxes on children's consumption and weight by examining differences in existing sales taxes on soft drinks between states. Details about state soda taxes were in comparison to information about weight and soda consumption among 7,300 children enrolled in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, which has been gathering information about a national group of children for a number of years.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


March 25, 2010, 7:57 PM CT

Talk to your babies

Talk to your babies
Northwestern University scientists have observed that even before infants begin to speak, words play an important role in their cognition. For 3-month-old infants, words influence performance in a cognitive task in a way that goes beyond the influence of other kinds of sounds, including musical tones.

The research by Alissa Ferry, Susan Hespos and Sandra Waxman in the psychology department in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, will appear in the March/April edition of the journal Child Development In the study, infants who heard words provided evidence of categorization, while infants who heard tone sequences did not.

Three-month-old infants were shown a series of pictures of fish that were paired with words or beeps. Infants in the word group were told, for example, "Look at the toma!" -- a made-up word for fish, as they viewed each picture. Other infants heard a series of beeps carefully matched to the labeling phrases for tone and duration. Then infants were shown a picture of a new fish and a dinosaur side-by-side as the scientists measured how long they looked at each picture. If the infants formed the category, they would look longer at one picture than the other.

The results, say the authors, were striking. The scientists observed that eventhough infants who heard in the word and tone groups saw exactly the same pictures for exactly the same amount of time, those who heard words formed the category fish; those who heard tones did not.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Adolescents who suffer physical injuries are vulnerable to emotional distress in the months following their hospitalization, yet almost 40 percent of hospitalized adolescents interviewed for a new study had no source for the follow-up medical care that could diagnose and treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress. These young trauma survivors are at risk for high levels of post-traumatic stress and depressive symptoms, as well as high levels of alcohol use, according to research by researchers at the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center.

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